Curtains are more than just window covers – they’re standout pieces of interior decor. Besides shielding out sunlight and curious neighbours, they also accent your room. You can pick bright and bold colours to stand out in a minimalist space, or neutral colours that allow other decors to shine.
But like other items in our homes, curtains get dirty. Vacuums work for light cleaning of dust. Depending on the type of curtain, you can either do some hand washing or load them in the washing machine. To hand wash, use a gentle detergent and hand scrub. For a washing machine, use the most delicate cycle. And remember – cold water, not hot!
Whether you’ve got new curtains or long-time drapes, keeping curtains clean is essential. We’ll run through how to clean curtains by type or cleaning method, so you can choose the best way to clean your drapes.
How Often Should I Clean Curtains?
It depends on a lot of factors! If you live somewhere dusty or if the curtains collect pet hair, then you’ll have to wash them more often – about every 3 months. But if you spot clean curtains regularly or keep your windows closed, then you can wash them every 6 months.
Cleaning Curtains By Type
The scent and feel of freshly-washed curtains are unmatched, but it’s important to know what type of curtain you have. This will determine how you clean them, since not all curtains can withstand machine washing.
If you’re uncertain about how to clean curtains, leave them in the hands of your cleaning professional! They can vacuum clean your beautiful curtains to keep them looking neat and tidy.
How to wash sheer curtains
Sheer or lace curtains are made of very delicate fabrics, so they’re damage-prone. You’ll need to hand wash them in cool water with half the usual amount of mild detergent.
How to wash blockout curtains
To save yourself the effort of taking down these heavy curtains, you can simply steam clean them! Work from top to bottom, and don’t let the curtains become too wet.
You can also hang your blockout curtains outside and sponge clean them with a mix of cold water and mild detergent. Follow with a clean, damp cloth to remove any soapy residue. Don’t fold them – that’ll lead to creases! Let them air dry before hanging them back up.
How to wash rubber-backed curtains
Sponge clean rubber-backed curtains so you don’t damage the lining. Hang your curtains outside, then spray them down with a hose. Use a sponge dipped in a mild detergent mixture to clean off any stains. Rinse with cold water and air dry without letting the rubber backing touch anything.
How to wash velvet curtains
You can machine wash some velvet curtains, but it’s important to check the label first. Unlined velvet drapes can be machine washed, but test their colourfastness prior to washing. For lined drapes, those are dry clean only.
Do not steam clean velvet drapes.
How to wash polyester curtains
Polyester curtains wear very well, since the material is durable. Use a vacuum cleaner with a soft brush attachment, and so long as you don’t spill anything, you may not need to deep clean them. Otherwise, these are machine washable!
How to wash lined curtains
Most lined curtains are dry clean only, due to how the lining is attached to the curtain material. Using a washing machine to clean your curtains might cause damage to the lining, such as wrinkles.
How to wash bead or shell curtains
Don’t take your bead curtains down – they could get tangled, and then you’ll spend hours unravelling them. Instead, fasten a cotton sheet behind the drapes and cover the floor underneath with towels.
Mix 2 cups of warm water and a few drops of detergent in a spray bottle. Spritz the curtains and wipe them clean with a microfibre cloth, working top to bottom. Then let the curtains air dry.
Different Methods to Clean Curtains
Depending on the amount of dust and dirt that has accumulated – or if your curtains have stains – you can choose from a range of cleaning methods.
Spot Cleaning for Curtains
It’s essential that you treat any stains immediately so they don’t set into the fabric. Blot the stain with a damp cloth or sponge. Then fill a spray bottle with white vinegar. Lightly spritz the affected area and dab with a sponge or microfibre cloth until the stain has lifted.
And of course, remember to do a spot test first!
About once a month, you should vacuum clean your curtains to remove dust. First, shake the curtains to get rid of any loose dirt. Then use a dust brush attachment to vacuum from top to bottom, paying extra attention to the uppermost sections.
This is the easiest way to clean curtains without taking them down.
Be especially careful with sheer fabric or lace curtains since these are most prone to runs and snags. Check the care instructions in case they discourage vacuuming.
How to hand wash curtains
Save this method for more delicate fabrics like lace! Use a gentle detergent, and avoid using brushes that could damage the cloth. Submerge one panel at a time in a sink filled with cold water and a tablespoon of detergent.
Swirl the fabric in soapy water to loosen dirt and debris. If you must scrub, be gentle and only use the fabric-to-fabric method. Drain the sink, then refill with more cold water so you can soak off the soapy residue.
Afterward, you can dissolve a cup of Epsom salt in the water (without detergent). Submerge each curtain for 10 minutes, then gently press out the water – do not rinse or wring. Then let the curtains drip dry in the fresh air before hanging them back up.
How to clean curtains with a steam cleaner
The steam cleaning method is best for heavy curtains, since it uses less moisture. Do not wash heavy drapes by hand since they may not dry completely.
Spot test the fabric before you steam clean to check if it can tolerate the heat without warping. Begin at the topmost section of the curtain and work your way down, holding the steam cleaner at least 15.0cm away from the fabric. Work one panel at a time.
Dry cleaning your curtains
Depending on the material, sometimes it’s best to leave your curtains in the hands of a dry cleaner. This is especially true for velvet drapes or curtains with a rubber backing. Washing these types of curtains risks damaging the fabric.
How to Clean Mould Off Curtains
If your curtains have mould, try vacuuming the spores out with a dust brush attachment. Then if your curtains aren’t too heavy, soak them in a solution of 1 cup vinegar plus 10 litres of water. Leave for 1–2 hours, then wash as usual.
Air drying is best for curtains – so don’t put them in your dryer. Hang them outside, away from direct sunlight.
Avoid using bleach to clean curtains since this could cause discolouration.
Hang curtains up by their hooks or holes while drying – don’t fold them over the rod!
Knowing how to clean curtains will help extend the lifespan of your drapes and ensure they’re properly maintained. It also prevents them from becoming a health hazard due to a build-up of dust or mould. And besides, isn’t it better to look at nice, clean curtains covering your windows? Just don’t forget to clean the rest of the room too!